Jennifer Lake's Blog

January 29, 2018

Atomic Oswald Three

Part One: https://jenniferlake.wordpress.com/2015/03/26/atomic-agent-oswald/

Part Two: https://jenniferlake.wordpress.com/2017/03/20/atomic-oswald-two/

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It is still 1959 in this telling of Atomic Agent Oswald. John Kennedy’s future CIA Director and Eisenhower’s current Atomic Energy Commission chairman, John Alex McCone, has become the ‘reluctant‘ (by his words) facilitator of a nuclear weapons moratorium. As we learned in Atomic Oswald Two, McCone was quietly leading a vanguard delegation of American nuclear scientists on a tour of Moscow and Leningrad at precisely the time of the Robert Webster/Lee Oswald false defections to the Soviet Union.
The depth and breadth of McCone’s own stakeholding in the nuclear business has yet to be told –to the extent possible, it will. In the meantime, one may wonder how McCone came to be the CIA chief: if the offer was an ill-considered political move on the part of Kennedy, or there was much more to it. The root of McCone’s ascent and control of the CIA may lie here, in the following.
*
*For your consideration:

JFK was elected in early November of 1960, remained the “president-elect” until inauguration day on Jan. 20, 1961. In mid-December, JFK is busily lining up his cabinet. “He spent most of November and December at the Palm Beach house his father had bought…There, and later at his house on N Street in Georgetown, he began to put together a government.” (p24, President Kennedy, Profile in Power, by Richard Reeves, 1993) “Kennedy interviewed strangers for hours every day…” (p25) “…he was trying to put together a bipartisan government, with Republicans as shields on defense and economics. ‘Sound’ was the image he wanted to project” (p27) …”On December 15, Kennedy told Robert Kennedy to come to Georgetown for breakfast… John Kennedy said at breakfast ‘You will be Attorney General. I need you… I need someone I know to talk to in this government… So, that’s it, General,’ he said, standing up…. ‘Nine strangers and a brother for a Cabinet,’ said Fred Dutton, one of Kennedy’s talent scouts.” (p29, ibid.)

*

“By December 1960, John W. Finney had been a reporter for three years in the Washington bureau of the New York Times, covering nuclear issues and the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) …but he had yet to bust a big one. Finney’s story came late that month as was, as Finney recalled, ‘handed to me on a platter.’ The messenger was the Times redoubtable Arthur Krock, the patriarch of Washington columnists, who approached Finney’s desk late one afternoon…  ‘Mr. Finney,’ Krock said, ‘I think if you call John McCone he’ll have a story for you’… Finney immediately understood the situation: ‘They were looking to plant a story. I was the right person and Krock was the intermediary.’ Finney made the call and was promptly invited to McCone’s office. ‘McCone was mad, sputtering mad,’ Finney recalled. ‘He started talking and saying, ‘They lied to us!’   Who?  ‘The Israelis. They told us it was a textile plant.’ There was new intelligence, McCone said, revealing that the Israelis had secretly built a nuclear reactor in the Negev with French help; McCone wanted Finney to take the story public. Finney’s subsequent article, published December 19 on page one in the Times, told the American people what Art Lundahl [Nat’l Photo Interpretation Center] and Dino Brugioni had been reporting to the White House for more than two years: that Israel, with the aid of the French, was building a nuclear reactor to produce plutonium. ‘Israel had made no public announcement about the reactor, nor has she privately informed the United States of her plan,’ Finney wrote faithfully reflecting what McCone told him…  Finney’s story also noted that McCone had ‘questioned’ Israel about the new information but then added: ‘Mr. McCone refused to go into details.’ It was standard operating proceedure for official Washington: Finney got the story and McCone was able to duck responsibility for giving it to him.

“McCone’s leak to Finney would be his parting shot as AEC commissioner; a few days later he announced his resignation on Meet The Press…  The Finney story was being written that same day. Finney was convinced, as McCone wanted him to be, that the commissioner’s anger stemmed from recently acquired knowledge, some new intelligence about the Israelis. ‘McCone left me with the impression,’ Finney recalled, ‘that they’d suddenly appreciated that the Israelis were lying to them.’ Finney paid a higher price than he realized for his big story; the Eisenhower administration was using him and the New York Times to accomplish what its senior officials were publicly apprehensive about doing themselves –taking on the Israelis over Dimona. McCone, as he did not indicate to Finney, had been briefed regularly on the Israeli nuclear program after replacing Lewis Strauss.. in July 1958; there is no evidence that Strauss, who also received regular briefings on Dimona from Art Lundahl and Dino Brugioni, personally shared his knowledge with McCone. But Lundahl and Brugioni did. McCone, as AEC chairman, was a member of the U.S. Intelligence Advisory Committee, the top-level group at the time, and was, according to Walter N. Elder, a former CIA official who was McCone’s long-time aide ‘in on the action from the beginning. He sat at the table.’ “ pp71-73, The Samson Option, by Seymour M. Hersh, 1991

Background on Dimona and Israel’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is here: Lewis Strauss and JFK, part three at the top
https://jenniferlake.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/lewis-strauss-and-jfk-part-iii/
*Explanations of Walt Elder’s remarks about McCone are not included in The Samson Option –i.e. when the ‘beginning’ began, what ‘action’ at whose ‘table’–significant questions regarding the complex represented by McCone. Hersh does, however, ask this question: “What made McCone (who died in early 1991 after a long, incapacitating illness) join the [outgoing] administration in suddenly reacting to intelligence that had been around for years?”
— answer it for yourself but read on for a suggestion.
“Whatever the reason, even before McCone’s summoning of John Finney, there was a coordinated effort at the top levels of government to make Israel acknowledge what it was doing at Dimona. Such unanimity of purpose and widespread access to sensitive intelligence about Dimona wouldn’t happen again –ever.” p74, The Samson Option, by Seymour M. Hersh, 1991
*
When the Dimona story broke in the Times, President-elect Kennedy had one month until the inauguration. His new Cabinet met with the Eisenhower team for an official briefing on world affairs only once –January 19, the ‘eve’ of their investment. “Kennedy and Eisenhower..were alone for forty-five minutes… [Eisenhower] began with the black vinyl satchel, “the Football”, which contained nuclear options, commands, and codes… carried by military officers who handed it off to each other in eight-hour shifts… [then] they walked into the Cabinet Room for an official working session with the old and new secretaries of State, Defense and Treasury… Kennedy had requested discussion in four categories; (1) Trouble Spots…. Kennedy asked about atomic weapons in other countries. ‘Israel and India,’ [Christian A.] Herter replied. The Israelis had a reactor capable of producing ninety kilograms of weapons-quality plutonium by 1963. He advised Kennedy to demand inspection and control before there were atomic bombs in the Middle East. In India, he said, the Russians were helping build  a reactor. The meeting ended before noon…” pp29-3o, President Kennedy, by Richard Reeves; And on that note, the official briefing was over. Mr. Reeves offers in the introduction an observation on page 19, “There was an astonishing density of event during the Kennedy years“, escaping no one’s attention.

***

Late 1960 Dimona was ‘domed’ and visible from the nearby road. At any moment or place, news of the reactor could break in the world press. The CIA’s U-2 reconnaisance had overflown the Dimona construction site any number of times on its way to the Soviet borders. The U-2 flightpaths were the same route flown by Francis Gary Powers on his takedown ride.

The spy satellites were coming: “On January 31, 1961, the Americans successfully placed the first SAMOS satellite in orbit. The era of the spy satellite had been born, and the intelligence game would never be the same again.” p70, Cold Warrior, James Jesus Angleton…, by Tom Mangold, 1991

The Powers Incident: “On May 1, 1960, Francis Gary Powers, the most experienced U-2 pilot with twenty-seven completed missions, including overflights of the Soviet Union and China, departed from Peshawar [Pakistan] to carry out Operation GRAND SLAM –the twenty-fourth and most ambitious deep-penetration flight in the U-2 program, which was planned to fly across the Soviet Union from south to north… The primary target [was] Plesetsk, which..might be an operational ICBM facility… But Powers never made it to Plesetsk… Four and a half hours into the mission, while Powers was above Sverdlovsk, an SA-2 anti-aircraft missile had detonated at 70,500 feet just behind Powers’ aircraft, disabling it.” p18, The Wizards of Langley, by Jeffrey T. Richelson, 2001

*The U-2 began formal operations in the summer of 1956 

“Richard Bissell and Kelly Johnson had no illusions that the U-2 would be perpetually invulnerable to Soviet countermeasures. All they hoped for was a couple of good years. The Soviet ability to detect and track the plane from the beginning was not expected, but they began thinking about a successor plane long before the May 1, 1960 Powers incident.     In August 1957, the Scientific Engineering Institute (SEI), a Boston-based CIA proprietary that had been working on ways to reduce U-2 vulnerability, began to investigate the possibility of designing an aircraft with a small radar cross-section. SEI soon discovered that supersonic speed dramatically reduced the chance of detection by radar… Both Lockheed and the Convair Division of General Dynamics were informed of the [SEI] conclusion to guide their research on a possible U-2 successor… To assist him in evaluating proposals, Bissell once again called on Edwin Land [of Polaroid] to serve as chairman of an advisory group… In early August 1960, the U-2 was no longer flying over the Soviet Union… But another CIA-managed project was about to pay huge dividends and revolutionize U.S. intelligence capabilities… The primary objective of the program [underway in 1958], first known as the Advanced Reconnaisance System (ARS), then as SENTRY, and finally as SAMOS, was to develop a satellite that would electronically scan the photographs obtained by its cameras and transmit the data back to a ground station where it could be reconstructed into a picture. A subsidiary objective was to develop a satellite that would return its film back to earth in a canister.    …Not surprisingly, Bissell was assigned to manage the new satellite program, which would soon be designated CORONA…   Out on the West Coast, Charlie Murphy, a longtime Air Force designee to the CIA, served as Bissell’s Field Technical Director at the Lockheed Advanced Projects (AP) facility in Palo Alto…    Five contractors played key roles in the development of CORONA. Itek, a Boston-based company founded by Richard Leghorn, and Fairchild Camera and Instruments were asked to develop camera systems. General Electric and Eastman-Kodak were, respectively, awarded contracts for developing the recovery capsule and supplying the film. The Lockheed corporation would have a dual role..[plus] the responsibility for integrating the entire effort…. [A] small program office.. was established at the Ballistic Missile Division headquarters near Los Angeles. Work on the ‘black’ side of the project was handled down the hall.” pp20-24, The Wizards of Langley

*John McCone and Steve Bechtel were among the exclusive members of Mandalay Camp at Bohemian Grove, going back the 1930s: “The most elite of the camps is Mandalay. A visitor once said of it, ‘You don’t just walk in there –you are summoned.’ Mr. [Gerald] Ford and Mr. [Henry] Kissinger this year [1977] were guests of Mandalay whose members include Stephen Bechtel Sr., Stephen Bechtel Jr., Leonard Case Firestone and Edgar F. Kaiser, among the industrialists; former CIA director John McCone and [Gen.] Lucius D. Clay, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff [and senior partner in Lehman Brothers]. Following closely in Mandalay’s footsteps is Cave Man Camp. Its members have included Herbert Hoover, a dedicated Bohemian who was known to fellow campers as ‘the Chief’…http://www.nytimes.com/1977/08/14/archives/bohemian-grove-where-big-shots-go-to-camp.html

***

***https://exposebohemiangrove.org/category/camps/mandalay-camp/***

One key individual in the Bohemian web of relationships that united John McCone, Steve Bechtel, Foster and Allen Dulles, Lewis Strauss, Herbert Hoover and many others was John Lowery Simpson, the maternal uncle of Stephen D. Bechtel (Sr.)’s wife Laura, and a member of the club’s Isle of Aves camp. Simpson, a close friend to the Dulles brothers, introduced John McCone to Allen Dulles at an intimate dinner party in Dulles’s home, circa 1947. At that time, Simpson was a vice-president of the J. Henry Schroder bank of London and New York –he stated in a 1978 oral history (e-book) that “Foster was our [Schroder bank] senior lawyer and Allen was also our lawyer…”

“Schroder Bank, of which Simpson remained a director after joining Bechtel, was recently discovered to have been a bank for the CIA director’s controversial discretionary fund…” http://www.educationforum.ipbhost.com/topic/4582-john-alex-mccone/?page=2

**

Simpson photo source:

https://mikemcclaughry.wordpress.com/the-reading-library/cia-declassified-document-library/frank-g-wisner-appointed-chief-of-si-mission-istanbul-turkey/*

 

“[I]n Who’s Who in America for 1952, Mr. Simpson states that he served under Herbert Hoover on the Commission for Relief in Belgium from 1915 to 1917; U.S. Food Administration, 1917 to 1918; American Relief Commission 1919, and with P.N. [Prentiss] Gray Company [in] Vienna, 1919 to 1921. Gray was the Chief of Maritime Transportation for the U.S. Food Administration, which enabled him to set up his own shipping company after the war. Like other Hoover humanitarians, Simpson also joined the J. Henry Schroder Banking Corp. (Adolf Hitler’s personal bankers) and the J.Henry Schroder Trust Company… Simpson states he was consultant to the Bechtel-McCone interests in war production during WWII…” http://www.coldcaseupdate.blogspot.com/2011/02/vijay-prashad-frank-wisner-jr.html

Readers can learn more about “Hoover’s Relief” here: https://jenniferlake.wordpress.com/2012/11/23/lewis-strauss-and-jfk/

For the campers at the Grove, a singular pride in production accompanies coordination of the S-1 Committee, leaders in the Manhattan Project, photographed at Bohemian Grove, September 1942. ***

*

http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/sociopolitica/esp_sociopol_bohemiangrove08.htm

***

“After graduating from Berkeley, [Simpson] had gone to work for the Commission for Relief in Belgium, a joint U.S.-British project… He spent five years in Europe schooling himself in Continental finance, making the social rounds (most notably in Vienna, where he married a well-connected socialite, Margrete Mandel) and developed a close friendship with CRB’s head and his fellow San Franciscan Herbert Hoover. On his return to the United States, Simpson joined the J. Henry Schroder Banking Corporation, a leading New York investment house… One evening during the mid-1930s, as Simpson was thrashing through an especially difficult contract, his friend and boss, Prent Gray..suggested the two of them seek advice from Sullivan & Cromwell, a law firm headquartered in the same building. During the Paris Peace Conference, Gray had met one of the firm’s partners… His name was John Foster Dulles. Perhaps, Gray suggested, he could help.
“‘Foster’ did help.. [and was] so helpful that he and his brother..Allen were subsequently awarded all of Schroder’s legal work. Schroder, in turn, began arranging financing for.. Sullivan & Cromwell clients. It was a mutually beneficial relationship, and during the course of it the brothers Dulles became fast friends with the bank’s rising young executive vice-president, John L. Simpson… Named a Schroder director, he became the firm’s international contact man.. [and] began shuttling between Washington, New York and Central and South America. Officially his missions were undertaken for the bank, but at the suggestion of his friends the Dulleses, he began doing the government favors as well, including ‘smoking out’..South American clients… Simpson passed along the results of his private intelligence-gathering to two men who were regular lunch partners in Washington: Dean Acheson, later to become..Truman’s secretary of State, and William ‘Wild Bill’ Donovan, founder of the OSS.
“During World War II, when Allen Dulles was organizing OSS networks from Switzerland, Simpson took time off from the bank to become chief financial advisor for the U.S. Army in Europe. After the Allied landings in Italy in 1943 and subsequent Italian surrender, Simpson, working with another Schroder executive attached to the OSS, in effect controlled the country’s treasury. After completing that task in 1944, he returned to San Francisco for..a brief rest at the home of his niece and her husband, Steve Bechtel. Bechtel, however, had an offer for him: a consultancy position with Bechtel-McCone…
“Simpson accepted and brought to Bechtel’s various enterprises a financial expertise they had been sorely lacking. But his real worth was as a door-opener…demonstrated at the inaugural meeting of the United Nations in San Francisco in April 1945 Assembled..were many of Simpson friends..and he made a point of introducing most of them to Steve Bechtel who showed them around his shipyards. One who got the tour was Thomas Finletter, later to succeed James Forrestal as..secretary of Defense.” pp74-75, Friends In High Places

**coming up: more Bechtel, McCone , early ties to the Atomic Energy Commission, CIA, World Affairs Councils, Schroder Bank, Allen Dulles, Permindex, and more quotes from “Friends in High Places; the Bechtel Story, the Most Secret Corporation and How It Engineered the World”, by Laton McCartney, 1988

***

 

***

*BUT…First, my brief lesson from Prof. C.Wright Mills (1916-1962), quoting his 1956 book The Power Elite:

“Changes in the American structure of power have generally come about by institutional shifts in the relative positions of the political, the economic, and the military orders… [B]roadly speaking, the American power elite has gone through four epochs and is now [in 1956] well into a fifth.” p269
*
“The supremacy of corporate economic power began in a formal way with the Congressional elections of 1866 and was consolidated by the Supreme Court decision of 1886 which declared that the Fourteenth Amendment protected the corporation. That period witnessed the transfer of the center of initiative from government to corporation. Until the First World War…this [third epoch] was an age of raids on the government by the economic elite, an age of simple corruption, when senators and judges were simply bought up.
 …The military order of this period..was subordinate to the political, which in turn was subordinate to the economic [order of hierarchies: economic, political, military] …that economy was dynamic; the ‘trusts’ ..[that] could readily use the relatively weak governmental apparatus for their own ends… [T]he powers of the industrial and financial corporations concentrated and interlocked… And as private economic power overshadowed public political power, so the economic elite overshadowed the political… Perhaps there has never been any period in American history so politically transparent as the Progressive Era of the President-makers and Muckrakers.” p271
*
“The New Deal [the fourth epoch] did not reverse the political and economic relations of the third era, but it did create within [the political and corporate ‘circles’] competing centers of power that challenged [corporate power].” p272
*
“But during the ‘thirties, the political order was still an instrument of small propertied farmers and businessmen…added [to it] the new struggle of organized labor and…unorganized unemployment… [T]hat is why the ‘thirties was a political decade: the power of business was not replaced, but it was contested and supplemented… The New Deal as a system of power was essentially a balance of pressure groups and interest blocs.”p273
*
“[The] balancing act that Roosevelt performed did not affect the fundamental institutions of capitalism as a type of economy. By his policies, he subsidized the defaults of the capitalist economy which had simply broken down… The ‘welfare state’ [was] created to sustain the balance and to carry out the subsidy, [as] differ[ing] from the ‘laissez-faire’ state…
   “We study history, it has been said, to rid ourselves of it…   Like the tempo of American life in general, the long-term trends of the power structure have been greatly speeded up since World War II, and certain newer trends within and between the dominant institutions have also set the shape of the power elite and given historically specific meaning to it fifth epoch: that [structural] clue is in the decline of politics as genuine and public debate…   The longtime tendency of business and government to become more intricately and deeply involved with each other has, in the fifth epoch, reached a new point of explicitness. The two cannot now be seen clearly as two distinct worlds.” p274
*
“In so far as the structural clue to the power elite today lies in the enlarged military state, that clue becomes evident in the military ascendancy. The warlords have gained decisive political relevance, and the military structure of America is now..a political structure. The seemingly permanent military threat places a premium.. upon their control of men, materiel, money, and power: virtually all political and economic actions are now judged in terms of military definitions of reality….
   In so far as the structural clue to the power elite today lies in the economic order, that clue is the fact that the economy is at once a permanent-war economy and a private-corporation economy… Within the elite as a whole, this coincidence of interest between the high military and the corporate chieftains strengthens them both and further subordinates the role of the merely political men…   During the ‘thirties, the political man was ascendant. Now the military and the corporate men are in top positions. Of the three types of circle that compose the power elite today, it is the military that has benefitted the most in its enhanced power…[and] one is tempted to speak of a political vacuum in which the corporate rich and the high warlord, in their coinciding interests, rule.” p276
*
“Its members exist all over the country, and it is a coalition of generals in the roles of corporation executives, of politicians masquerading as admirals, of corporate executives acting like politicians…
   “The higher members of the military, economic, and political orders are able readily to take over one another’s point of view…”p283
*
“As the requirements of the top places in each of the major hierarchies become similar, the types of men occupying these roles at the top– by selection and by training in the jobs– becomes similar. This is no mere deduction from structure to personnel. [It] is a fact revealed by the heavy traffic that has been going on between the three structures, often in very intricate patterns… As the business between the big three increases in volume and importance, so does the traffic in personnel.” p287
*
“The inner core of the power elite consists, first, of those who interchange commanding roles at the top of one dominant institutional order with those in another: the admiral who is also a banker and a lawyer and who heads up an important federal commission; the corporation executive whose company was one of the two or three leading war materiel producers who is now the Secretary of Defense; the wartime general who dons civilian clothes to sit on the political directorate and then becomes a member of the board of directors of a leading economic corporation.” p288
*
“By their very careers and activities, they lace the three types of milieux together. They are, accordingly, the core members of the power elite.” p289
*
*
Bechtel-McCone was the second incarnation of an ambitious partnership started after World War I by Warren ‘Dad’ Bechtel. W.A. Bechtel built his up his own business on public road contracts:
“As his road-building work continued, Bechtel began to grasp the significance of the.. automotive equation: oil. If more cars meant more new highways, they also meant the rapid, large-scale development of the West’s oil and gas resources… A boom was coming and Bechtel meant to be a part of it. But before he could get under way, though, Bechtel needed help, a partner who could share both his work load and his enthusiasm for the opportunities… Bechtel had to have a partner now, an experienced builder he could rely on completely. He found his man in the summer of 1921. His name was Henry J. Kaiser. [p26, Friends in High Places]
“…Kaiser’s low-balling tactics did not endear him to his rivals..[and] he was regarded as something of a pariah by most of the construction industry. Bechtel, however, was intrigued. Whatever Kaiser’s methods, there was no disputing his doggedness… He was a born promoter and an instinctive, near-habitual risk-taker… Moreover, Kaiser possessed the same sort of driving ambition…
“Within a few months the two men had concluded a partnership deal.. by no more than a handshake. ‘There are two priciples [Warren Bechtel] followed,’ Kaiser said later. ‘He hated to sign papers… And his usual condition for entering any proposition was a 50/50 division’… Together Kaiser and Bechtel were to build many of the major roadways up and down the West Coast. [p27]
“[They] were among the first contractors in the United States to tackle major pipeline projects, first for Standard Oil, then for Continental Gas… As more and more contracts followed, the relationship between Bechtel and Big Oil forged into an alliance, one that.. would [eventually] have a profound impact..on the Middle East and the course of American foreign policy.” [p28]
*
The endeavor that brought Bechtel-Kaiser onto the national stage of heavy construction, and reunited the younger UCBerkeley pals, Steve Bechtel and John McCone, was the Boulder Dam consortium known as ‘Six Companies”. The contracts for the dam were being let under the auspices of Herbert Hoover, lately Secretary of Commerce and Labor, and current President of the United States. It was in the midst of Boulder building that Warren Bechtel ventured alone to Moscow on business (to consult on Soviet hydroelectric projects) and died in a hotel after self-administering insulin. “That night, August 28, 1933, Warren A. Bechtel died in his sleep.” [p45]
“Steve [had] played increasingly larger roles in Bechtel’s pipelining projects, and by the time he was in his mid-20s was managing them on his own –so effectively so that by 1930 he became the functional corporate head of Bechtel-Kaiser Enterprises”..[p48]…his brothers, shortly after Dad’s death named him president of Bechtel’s operations.” [p49] …Neither Bechtel nor any of the Six Companies would ever go broke –on the contrary, all were to make millions more building government dams and roads… In this effort, Steve Bechtel would join with…one of the pivotal figures in American policy. His name was John McCone.” [p51]
*
“[Since ‘Boulder’] Bechtel and McCone had kept in close touch..[as] the core of America’s industrial might..was shifting westward, and what was moving it was oil. ‘Steve and I shared a sense of imminent change,” McCone recalled, ‘…of great projects…[and] We were sure we could have a place in them.’
…”And here Steve Bechtel had an idea. Why not, he proposed to McCone, offer the oil companies an entire construction package? Not just pipelines, but storage tanks, refineries, –the works… The grand plan settled, Bechtel and McCone drew up a contract –one that named McCone president and gave Bechtel, as chairman, controlling interest in the Bechtel-McCone Corporation– rented a suite of offices in downtown Los Angeles and in May 1937 proclaimed themselves in business.” [p53]  “By 1939, Bechtel-McCone had mushroomed into an organization with more than 10,000 employees and was building refineries, chemical plants and pipelines from Montana to Venezuela. ‘We will build anything, any place, any time,’ Bechtel crowed. ‘The bigger, the tougher the job, the better we like it.’ “ [p55, Friends in High Places]
   During WWII, the partners clinched contracts for shipbuilding from the military: “They knew next to nothing about building ships, but when an opportunity presented itself, [they] were always ready to learn.” Bechtel-McCone ran four west coast shipyards in Seattle WA, Sausalito CA, Richmond CA, and Los Angeles —“The War Department found them a site on Terminal Island in Los Angeles harbor, not far from their corporate headquarters. Bechtel and McCone dubbed the operation ‘Calship’.[p57] “Henry Kaiser had followed Bechtel McCone’s lead into shipbuilding, and during the first few years of the war the two companies had emerged as the country’s leading shipbuilders, running nearly neck and neck in the speed and volume with which they turned out vessels… At its peak during the summer of 1944, Kaiser was turning out 18 ships a month. By October, Calship was producing 20, winning for Bechtel and McCone the satisfaction of running the most productive single shipyard in the world. By then, Bechtel and McCone had become involved in other wartime enterprises… [such as the notorious Canadian pipeline boondoggle called ‘Canol’ which was abandoned and the Willow Run aircraft plant in Birmingham Alabama which produced no aircraft]. “All in all, World War II was a most lucrative enterprise for Bechtel-McCone… [They] had grossed [for themselves] well over $100 million. Their net investment: considerably less than $400,000.” [p69]
    After the war, Bechtel-McCone liquidated “largely for tax reasons” and regrouped its assets under a new name, Bechtel Brothers–McCone, run by its middle-management. In 1946, foundering without its prominent chief executive, Steve Bechtel returned to the company, ostensibly buying out McCone and his brother Ken, and rechristened it Bechtel Corporation… “[and] soon snapped up..major contracts…. Seldom, if ever, did Steve undertake a major move without checking it first with ‘Uncle John.’ “ [p76]*

*

“After the breakup of Bechtel-McCone, McCone had used part of his wartime windfall to buy the San-Francisco-based Joshua Hendy Iron Works [bought by Westinghouse as an independent subsidiary in 1946]. The company..had built ships during the war…[and McCone] became increasingly involved in shipping… when along with Socal in 1947, they assumed ownership of…Pacific Tankers Inc. Transporting oil for the Navy [duringWWII] from the Middle East to the United States, Pacific Tankers’ fleet..grew to 90 ships and by the end of the war had become the largest oil mover in the world.
   “With McCone as majority stockholder and Bechtel and several West Coast associates as silent investors, the company [was] rechristened Pacific Far East Lines and extended its operations to Japan, China and the Philippines. In addition, McCone [and..] Bechtel had entered into a partnership with Henry Mercer, the New York owner of States Marine Lines and U.S. Lines, companies with vast fleets that operated in the Atlantic. [McCone now] ranked as one of the dominant shipping figures in the world.
   “In between business chores, McCone also found time to serve as a director of the Stanford Research Institute and as a trustee and chief fund-raiser for the California Institute of Technology whose scientists had played a critical role in the development of the atomic bomb and were now on the leading edge of nuclear research.” pp 96-97, Friends in High Places
*
*Stanford Research Institute, or SRI, from the footnote on page 78 of ‘Friends’:  “Founded in 1946 by a group of West Coast businessmen, including Steve Bechtel and Henry J. Kaiser, and originally affiliated with Stanford University [until 1969], the Stanford Research Institute eventually grew to become the second-largest corporate-government ‘think tank’ in the country. Its business was supplying government and industry with the latest in applied research… Among its many programs, SRI evaluated the U.S. strategic force; conducted laser radar studies in the upper atmosphere; analyzed ballistic missile defenses; drew up studies for improving Air Force reconaissance and surveillance systems…
   Since SRI’s founding, Bechtel has been one of the institutes major clients and supporters. SRI..evaluat[ed] the development potential of Jubail Saudi Arabia, and drew up the blueprint for Bechtel’s industrialization of Indonesia during the Sukarno regime. Over the years, the Bechtel family has donated millions to SRI… No other company or family matches [them].”
“Steve Bechtel had realized the potential of atomic power and had positioned his company to capitalize on it.  The [Bechtel-McCone] involvement had begun at the dawn of the Atomic Age.” [p101]
   McCartney’s ‘Friends’ makes no mention of John McCone’s sponsorship of Ernest O. Lawrence and his tabletop cyclotrons of the early 1930s, but as the opportunities were presented “in the early 1940s, Bechtel through its connections with General Somervell, had built several ‘heavy water’ storage plants at Hanford Washington as part of the Manhattan Project… Later, after the bomb had proved its destructive potential at Hiroshima, Bechtel had been one of several contractors and utilities that built the ‘Doomsday Town’ in the.. Nevada desert…”
   “For Bechtel, the Doomsday study was one of a series of early projects the company carried out for the AEC.. [and] its energy-minded customers like PG&E. It was work that in the coming years would do much to define the emerging nuclear industry. Not coincidentally, it would also establish the Bechtel Corporation as the world’s largest purveyor of nuclear power.” [p101, Friends..]
Other Californians were making similar calculations… Henry Kaiser had.. gotten into the game in typically high-rolling fashion by securing a $110 million contract for Kaiser engineers to modernize and expand the [postwar] Hanford facilities.” [p102, ibid.]
*
The ‘Nuclear Negligence’ series on Kaiser Chemical notes that  “Kaiser was under consideration to participate in a program to develop alternate sources of uranium, but it is unclear whether that work ever took place.” http://www.eecap.org/Covered_Facilities/Illinois/Kaiser.htm
Concerning a piece of Kaiser’s Los Angeles real estate:
“Kaiser Permanente [Hospital in] Downey is built on the site of the first nuclear reactor in the state of California. This land [also] became a NASA site… The nuclear reactor was later moved to Santa Susana”  where a catastrophic explosion of the reactor in 1958 left permanente contamination.   “…The Downey facility processed at least 300 uranium slugs for use as nuclear reactor fuel in 1953 for North American Aviation.” http://www.kaiserpapers.org/downeyradiation.html
This is just the tip of the iceberg, folks.
*
Edgar F. Kaiser, who took over the empire from his father between 1956-58, later received a Kennedy appointment to oversee ballistic Missile Site labor relations.

***

Edgar F. Kaiser, president, Kaiser Industries Corporation; Henry J. Kaiser, founder and chairman of the board
Series: Photograph Files, CF Numbered series 292-430

“…McCone found the challenge of government work stimulating, particularly when it was for the Department of Defense, where he was able to give full vent to his hard-line anticommunist views. Even the Bechtelians.. were sometimes startled by the fervor… To hear McCone tell it, the Soviets were bent on nothing less than world domination. The free forces.. would be strong only if they understood that the atomic bomb was.. a God-given means of defending the American way of life… McCone’s chance to translate those views into action came in 1947 when he was invited to Washington to become a member of the President’s Air Policy Commission… [The] commission turned out a dramatically titled report, ‘Survival in the Air Age,’ which recommended..[a] buildup of nuclear-weapon stockpiles as quickly as possible. The report[s]..military conclusions were written by McCone…” [p97]   …”As his stature in the Defense Department grew, he became close to ..Dwight D. Eisenhower whom McCone first met when Eisenhower returned to Washington to take up duties as Army Chief of Staff. Another important Friendship made during this period was with Allen Dulles, later to be McCone’s predecessor as director of Central Intelligence.” [p98]

“McCone could draw satisfaction from the fact that one of his key recommendations in ‘Survival in the Air Age’ –the buildup of U.S. nuclear-weapons stockpiles– had been put into effect by Truman. As part of the effort, the president authorized the tripling of capacity at the principal weapons plant at Oak Ridge Tennessee, and the building of ancillary gaseous-diffusion plants at Portsmouth Ohio and Paducah Kentucky. McCone was heartened by Truman’s move. So was Steve Bechtel whose company was chief contractor on the work. McCone meanwhile, kept drawing closer to Eisenhower, now NATO commander and being touted by both parties as a presidential candidate. Eisenhower himself, however, was being coy about his candidacy and..had yet to declare his party affiliation. Then, in early January 1951, Henry Cabot Lodge, Republican senator from Massachusetts, told the press that..Eisenhower would soon announce his candidacy as a Republican. McCone, who was in Paris vacationing with his wife, hurried to Eisenhower’s headquarters outside the French capital… ‘Cabot Lodge made this statement and we’ve got to answer it,’ Eisenhower told McCone… McCone quickly discovered ..that [Ike] had still not made up his mind whether he was a Republican or Democrat. McCone pressed and argued with him until Ike finally gave in: all right, he was a Republican… [and] that afternoon, the statement was ready and.. Eisenhower was in. As president, Dwight Eisenhower would remember his friends, including John McCone, whom he would name chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. Under McCone’s aegis, the nation would begin gearing up for the age of expectedly cheap and trouble-free nuclear power. Dozens of new plants, costing billions of dollars, would be necessary. Required too would be a construction company to build them. As.. Steve Bechtel had put it, one step was following another.” [pp99-100, Friends…]

*** “Wasting no time extending Bechtel’s lead, Steve flew to Washington where McCone introduced him to AEC chairman Strauss whom he had come to know when both men were working for the Department of Defense. [1947? or earlier in wartime, under Forrestal as Secretary of the Navy?– McCartney is nonspecific]  Bechtel had his own friends at the AEC as well. One was with W. Kenneth Davis, the agency’s director of reactor development who was Socal’s research director, had worked with Bechtel during construction of the MTA [the Materials Testing Accelerator, at the core of the Lawrence Livermore lab]. [Along with] three others…all four [friends] would leave the Atomic Energy Commission and ultimately work for Bechtel…   their friend AEC chairman Lewis Strauss was not having an easy time of it…[and] by November 1957, Strauss..told Eisenhower he would not seek reappointment to the [AEC]. The man he recommended to replace him was John McCone.”

“Since the fateful meeting in Paris, McCone had remained close to Eisenhower and had provided a steady stream of advice during the 1952 campaign. McCone had also struck up a warming friendship with Eisenhower’s vice-president Richard Nixon, whom he had known since Nixon emerged as an ardently anticommunist Californai congressman, and John Foster Dulles, who had asked McCone to be his Deputy Secretary of State. Washington itself, however, had lost much of its charm for McCone, largely because of the flak he had taken as Under-Secretary of the Air Force for awarding a contract to ..his former business partner Henry J. Kaiser… paying Kaiser three times as much as it had..paid the Fairchild Corporation.. to build [an] identical plane… [It] was revealed that the Kaiser-Fraser Corporation..that was building the planes, was partly owned by.. Steve Bechtel. [p108, ibid.]  ..In 1954..Eisenhower briefly lured McCone back with an invitation to serve on a committee.. restructuring the U.S. Foreign Service… The following year, Eisenhower sent him to Rome as his personal representative ..[to] Pope Pius XII. McCone however, was reluctant to do more. His growing shipping business was on its way to making him the American Onassis.”

” [W]hen the call came ..to a meeting with [President Eisenhower] in May 1958… McCone did not turn the president down [as he was] offered the AEC post over lunch at the White House…    The agency John McCone took over had a budget of $2 billion per year, operated $7 billion worth of facilities, employed 105,000 persons and was counted as one of the most complex and diffuse organizations in the federal government… McCone quickly took charge. One of his first –and for Bechtel, most important– moves involved funding for the private nuclear industry… McCone recommended that federal subsidies be paid to utilities for the construction of..nuclear plants…” [p109] ” Another decision..was to halt uranium-buying from foreign sources; henceforth radioactive ore was to be obtained exclusively through U.S. companies, principally Union Carbide (a major customer of the McCone-and-Bechtel-owned Joshua Hendy Corporation), Kaiser, and Utah Construction [two of the Boulder Dam partners]. Next, he appointed three executives from Standard Oil of California [Socal, later-named Chevron] and the president of PG&E –all major Bechtel customers– to study the [process] of federal subsidies for reactors… [McCone] began spreading U.S. nuclear technology overseas, provising foreign aid in the form of experimental reactors to a host of countries large and small… ‘I’ve forgotten how many of these reactors were set up around the world, but maybe a hundred of them. I think.. we went a little too fast on that,’ [McCone said in an interview in 1974]. McCone was equally zealous in his support of U.S. nuclear-arms development, but here Eisenhower finally the line in late summer 1958 when he told his staff that.. [he] was, said the president, firmly committed to imposing a ban on all nuclear-arms testing. The ban was bitterly opposed by McCone ..and the idea lay dormant until the Kennedy administration… Nonetheless, thanks to McCone, Bechtel and General Electric were moving right along and by the fall of 1959, the Dresden I nuclear plant was complete.” [pp110-111, ibid.]

 

**Dresden I, operational in 1960

**

*** “There were many chores Steve Bechtel and his company would perform for presidents, many favors they would do –and had done– for the organs of government, including, though few knew it, the Central Intelligence Agency. [p117] The approval for CIA covers came directly from Steve Bechtel, who had his own ties to the agency… [p118] …Steve Sr. and John Simpson were Bechtel’s liason with the intelligence community at the high levels, but in the field, Bechtel worked with Washington through.. key executives…” [p119]

Stephen D. Bechtel Jr., handed the business by his father at the family Christmas party of 1959

*”There had never been any doubt that one day, Stephen D. Bechtel Jr. would take over the company Steve Senior had built. Besides Bechtel blood, he had all the other requisite qualifications… Steve junior had seen the world of Bechtel and he wanted to be part of it. Conveniently, one of Bechtel’s senior executives was waiting with a job offer. There was a pipeline down in Texas, he said. Was Steve interested? ‘Hell yes,’ he exclaimed.” [p129] “In taking over as Bechtel’s president, Steve Bechtel Jr. sounded a brave note. He would run the business..with the same vigor and vision… but if Steve Bechtel Jr. expected his father to fade into the background, he soon found he was mistaken. Freed from the administrative chores he so detested, Steve Senior was..even more dominant then before… He spent fully six months of the year on the road, popping up one day in London, the next in Toronto, a third in Beirut, Seoul, Sydney or Rome. In his wake, he left a lengthening string of deals:  …mines in South Africa;… smelters in Chile; …pipelines in Germany and Switzerland; nuclear plants in Spain and India…” [p135, Friends in High Places]

*************

   The circle of personal relationships around Herbert C. Hoover and his ‘relief’ endeavors is an essential historic digression in elucidating the web-work of the cold war power elite. The story starts in this blog with “Lewis Strauss and JFK” –Strauss joined Hoover’s Committee for Relief in Belgium as second-in-command. Close behind, Prentiss Gray and John L. Simpson of J. Henry Schroder Bank, the ‘Schrobanco’ group in New York established later in 1923, followed suit and signed up for the WWI CRB.
   Prentiss Gray, an Oakland CA native and UCBerkeley alumnus, built a global grain-shipping business out of “food relief” and became the president of Schroder Bank in New York until his accidental death in 1935. After the war, his son Sherman Gray joined the business. New blood came into Schrobanco when George W. Mallinckrodt joined in 1954. Mallinckrodt married the boss’s daughter,(Baroness Charmaine Schroder) in 1958 and the pair were sent to London in 1960 to grow the business with Europe. Charmaine’s brother Bruno, the holder of 40% interest, reigned over the bank and its branches from London.
   Mallinckrodt is an interesting figure in this atomic version of events: three generations before him, his German forebears founded a chemical company in St. Louis Missouri. The Mallinckrodt Chemical Works became the greater family’s firmament of wealth, and in early 1942, it also became the first contractor to make processed uranium for the Manhattan Project.
*
                                                                                      
*
“Before the creation of the secret cities of Los Alamos, Oak Ridge and Hanford, the Manhattan Project hired the Mallinckrodt Chemical Works of St. Louis to refine the first uranium used in the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. For the next two decades, Mallinckrodt continued its classified work for the Atomic Energy Commission…” https://firstsecretcity.com/tag/mallinckrodt-chemical-works/
**
Mallinckrodt Chemical dumped its radioactive waste in the open outside the city’s downtown, what is today the residential neighborhoods of St. Louis’s North County. The local landfill where the majority waste now lies underground is burning in a “Subsurface Smoldering Event” and threatening the entire region with massive contamination. Uncovered piles of dirt-like radioactive tailings were left to ‘drift’ and wash into the Coldwater Creek, already a generational source of sickness to the residents. Watch the HBO documentary “Atomic Homefront” about this disaster.
*                                                                   
*1942: Mallinckrodt received the Belgian Congo ore shipped by Edgar Sengier to the Archer Daniels Midland docks in New York Harbor
**

The government’s broker for Edgar Sengier’s Congolese uranium was Thomas K. Finletter: “The Navy had arranged for the first approach to the Union Miniere du Haut Katanga to obtain a supply… Edgar Sengier, who represented the Congo mining interests had concluded.. that uranium eventually would become important to the war effort and he managed to divert to the United States some two thousand steel drums..of ore. These were stacked in the open at Port Richmond, Staten Island New York, and plainly marked ‘Uranium Ore, product of the Belgian Congo… Sengier communicated with Thomas K. Finletter, who was then Special Assistant to the Secretary of State, to let him know that the ore was available. Finletter passed the word to Colonel Kenneth D. Nichols of the Corps of Engineers, and Nichols purchased it from Sengier.” [p181, Men and Decisions, by Lewis L. Strauss, 1961] “Prior to 1939, of course, there had not been much interest in the ore… Sengier recalls that in May of 1939, about five months after the news of fission… three French scientists..suggested to him that the Union Miniere should join with them in making an experimental bomb in the Sahara. Sengier accepted this idea in principle and agreed to furnish the preliminary material…but in September 1939 the outbreak of war ended the project… Sengier decided to take some steps on his own responsibility… He gave orders to send to the United States all the radium and certain uranium ores which were then at plants of the Union Miniere in Belgium…[where they] were stacked in the open near the dock..on Staten Island..[and] remained unguarded and unnoticed for nearly two years… [Years later, under the AEC] it fell to me [Strauss] to complete some of the details with Sengier. We had both been connected with Hoover’s Commission for Relief in Belgium in World War I and our friendship dated from those days.” [pp316-317, Men and Decisions]    ***

At the 1945 United Nations Conference in San Francisco, Finletter was appointed as a  former State Dept. official to attend as a consultant. Steve Bechtel gave him the tour: “Assembled at the conference were many of Simpson’s friends from Washington and New York, and he made a point of introducing most of them to Steve Bechtel, who showed them around his shipyards. One..was Thomas Finletter, later to succeed James Forrestal as..Secretary of Defense.” [p75, Friends in High Places] Finletter was later made chairman of the Air Policy Commission where he and John McCone fastened onto each other.
*
From Thomas Finletter’s oral history for the Truman Library:
[Q] “You were appointed chairman of the President’s Air Policy Commission in 1947, why in your opinion, why were you selected for that position?”
Finletter: “I haven’t the slightest idea… I can’t answer the question.”
[Q] “Did you have any association with air matters before this time?”
Finletter: “I’m trying to think… I do not think so.”
[Q] “As you know [the library has] the records…The commsision..predicted that Russia would not develop an atomic bomb before 1953… Why in your opinion were the Russians able to develop the device so much quicker than you had expected?”
Finletter: “It’s impossible to answer that… Of course, my statement was based on information from all sorts of intelligence sources…”
[Q] “And then in April of 1950 [two months before the invasioon of South Korea] you became the Secretary of the Air Force and served..until the end of the Truman administration. Here comes my old question again, why were you chosen?”
Finletter: “I haven’t the foggiest idea. Well..one possible reason [was] the fact that I had been the chairman of the Air Policy Commission…”
https://www.trumanlibrary.org/oralhist/finletter.htm
Finletter’s field of competence, it appears, was international business law with the firm of Coudert Brothers in New York, brokering contracts between governments and corporations. When Finletter accepted the appointment as Secretary of the Air Force, he called on McCone and said, “I need you by my side.” McCone served as UnderSecretary of the Air Force for Finletter’s term: “Though McCone’s title was deputy secretary [sic], it quickly became apparent that he was the department’s real boss. McCone’s first order of business: Get aircraft production moving on a crash basis; get the Sabre jets needed to combat the Russian-built MiGs out of the plants and into the skies over Korea.” [p99, Friends..]

******

In 1947, while the Air Policy Commission was convening,  Laton McCartney writes that John McCone met Allen Dulles:
   “The occasion that initially brought them together was a dinner party at the Dulles townhouse in New York, called to celebrate the expected victory of Thomas E. Dewey as president. Taking a brief respite from his Washington duties, McCone had been staying as the houseguest of Grete and John Simpson, Steve Bechtel’s chief confidant. When the Dulleses asked the Simpsons to dinner, Uncle John brought McCone along… On a deflated note [over the election], the party broke up, but not before John McCone had made an important friend.” [p98, Friends..]
As for John L. Simpson:
“A native San Franciscan and nine years Steve’s senior, Simpson possessed a worldliness and sophistication no one else in the Bechtel organization, including its president, could match. After graduating from Berkeley, he had gone to work for the Commission for Relief in Belgium, a joint U.S.-British project..[for] refugees during World War I. He spent five years in Europe schooling himself in Continental finance, making the social rounds (most notably in Vienna, where he married a well-connected socialite Margarete Mandel), and developing a close friendship with CRB’s head and his fellow San Franciscan, Herbert Hoover. On his return to the United States, Simpson joined the J. Henry Schroder Banking Corporation, a leading New York investment house with branches throughout Europe.“[p74, ibid.]
*
Few Europeans of this era have an internet footprint, as expected, but Margarete Mandel is a virtual phantom. It has been noted that a familial (but untraceable) relationship exists with Col. Edward. Mandell House of Texas, known as President Wilson’s alter-ego, but the question remains. Might this Austrian socialite and wife of John L. Simpson be a relative of Georges Mandel who went by the name of Mantello, described himself as Hungarian, but is listed as a citizen of Austria?  Mandel/Mantello has already been introduced in Atomic Agent Oswald as the president of the world trade organization and CIA front PERMINDEX. The logic in the question reflects the postwar focus on a fractured Austro-Hungarian Empire and the reach and autonomy of the Commission for Relief in Belgium and its successor agencies under Hoover’s U.S. Food Administration and the American Relief Administration.
*
“…the evidence suggests that the major emphasis in the Wilsonian policy.. largely sought to rely on the skillful utilization of food relief programs by Herbert Hoover to check whatever revolutionary socialist tendencies emerged among the new nations. In the last analysis, this Hoover-directed..food relief, with its emphasis on the breaking down of nationalistic barriers to trade.. was a classic expression of the.. proto-Marshall Plan tendency of Wilson and his advisers to use America’s expansionist economic power.. to establish international liberal-capitalist stability…  The Hungarian Bolshevik Revolution of March 1919 was naturally of great concern to many Wilsonians at Paris [Peace Conference] who feared.. revolution might spread… In response to the threat.. Wilson and Hoover agreed during April on a program of manipulating food and relief supplies in such a manner as to isolate and contain the Hungarian Revolution… Hoover and Wilson were especially interested in adopting a liberal-reintegrationist approach..to Austrian relief and the diplomatic treatment of the defeated Austrians.. to prevent the possible spread of Bolshevism from Budapest to Vienna.” [pp191-192, Woodrow Wilson and World Politics, by N. Gordon Livin Jr.,1968]

……posting in progress…..

 

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